Read it and weep.
You can read more here or here.
And thanks, DickG., for the link.
It’s a trend.
Losing confidence in institutions seems to be rampant.
I can’t possibly imagine why.
Pervasive Gloom About the World Economy from Pew, which…despite a name that always makes me giggle…does manage to scrape up some silver lining…
As I said on another thread somewhere. I think that the inevitable end of big human organizations is to put self-preservation above whatever good intentions they started with. And so I finally appreciate the wisdom of small, independent, non-denominational, non-hierarchical churches. The longer I think about it, the more I realize that they are much closer to the spirit — and Spirit — of the early pre-Nicene church. They have the potential to be more democratic and less malignant than The Church. And I’m not singling out the RCC. There are plenty of fundamentalist churches that are too big, in my opinion.
I still don’t want them to have tax-exempt status, but when you’re small enough to meet in someone’s living room, who needs it?
Religion has taken a huge swing towards the personal, I think. We’ve lost faith in monoliths in general, but Organized Religion got hit harder, somehow. Fred Clark has done a lot of talking about this; they reacted badly. Pastors continued to treat the Bible as a manual to every minute aspect of life in the twenty-first century, when it clearly was no such thing. Pastors, Chaplains, Priests – all of them gripped tighter around their pulpits for control, not balance, and tried harder and harder to convince their congregations that they had a monopoly on truth.
But nobody has a monopoly on truth. It’s pretty hard to believe in the monolith of religion when every church you pass has a two-bit sign in the front telling you theirs is the Only Way. When you grow up handing out Chick tracts in colored cellophane, it seems easy to believe – when the people you try to convert answer your arguments with better ones, it’s much harder. I imagine it’s much the same for other faiths.
So we stopped listening. If yours is the only way, why aren’t your reasons any convincing than the church down the street? If your truth is objective and perfect and whole and sound, how come my science textbook makes more sense? If you’ve been telling the truth about The Rapture all this time, why does this book say it was supposed to come twenty years ago? And some people realized that they’d been lied to, and took their religion and left the Church, and some people fixed their blinders firmly across their eyes and marched on, and a lot of people left their religion and the Church together and never looked back.
And after a mess like that, who can blame them?
I fall into one of those categories, where I took my religion and left the church. I don’t recommend it to any one, and I don’t proselytize for other floaters, but the organized part with which I was most familiar was damaging to the extreme, and they mucked up the whole Jesus thing to the point where Jesus wouldn’t recognize himself. I’m still chewing over that one, even while I see the beauty of some organized religions and I see their beauty precisely for the reasons you state: They leave things open, just a little. They accept people where they are. And they Don’t. Muck. Up. Jesus.
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